Coconut Chicken Curry
Adapted, loosely, from Bon Appetit

I can’t claim Thai expertise or authenticity. I leave that to the experts. It is nice, however, to be able to put together something that is fast and delicious, especially on a weeknight. Much of the success here will depend on the kind of curry paste you use. I recommend taking a bit of effort and getting a decent curry paste. Most grocery stores carry small jars of Westernized curry, and while I’m no expert, they taste flat to me, while the brand I use at home (which I order online), is lively and has a nice kick. It winds up being a lot cheaper too. A jar of this brand lasts me for quite awhile. Usually I have the red and the green, with the latter being more spicy. But if you prefer your food with less heat, simply add less curry paste.

Here, I swapped out regular potatoes for sweet potatoes – partly because that’s what we had and partly because I love sweet potatoes in a coconut curry. I added the red pepper in the last minute because if you add the at the beginning, they cook out too much and become mushy. This way, they stay a bit firm and crunchy. Finally, instead of using coconut milk with water, I just added two cans of light coconut milk. You can definitely use one can and an equal amount of water if that’s what you have in your pantry.

Vegetarians: if you want to skip the chicken and go with tofu, this curry is even easier. Just pat dry and cut your extra-firm tofu in desired-size pieces and add to the curry a few minutes before you’re ready to remove it from heat, perhaps at the same time as the red pepper. The only thing is that Thai curries often contain ingredients like fish sauce and shrimp paste. Does anyone know a workaround for that if you absolutely cannot eat meat?

3 tablespoons grape seed or vegetable oil
2 to 4 tablespoons red curry paste (depends on brand, intensity, I used Mae Ploy which I purchase here, so you can play around with what your taste buds preferred)
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch coins
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium parsnip, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch coins
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, halved and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 (13.5-ounce) cans light coconut milk
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
Fresh Thai basil leaves, for garnish, optional
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
Steamed rice, for serving

Heat oil in a large, heavy pot (Dutch oven is perfect) over medium heat. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the carrots, onion, and parsnip, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add the sweet potatoes, chicken, coconut milk, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, stirring from time to time, until chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Add the pepper and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Divide the curry among the bowls and garnish with basil and cilantro. Serve with steamed rice.

Serves 6

© 2023 Olga Massov